American Business Leaders
This essay briefly describes the life and achievements of two successful American business leaders, their brief life sketches, the ways and means used by them to achieve their success . It also goes to explain how each of them affected the American society and finally concludes with a comment on the morality of their actions.
The two businessman chosen for this essay are : Andrew Carnegie, the pioneer of the American steel industry who lived in the nineteenth century, and Bill Gates, the software wizard who has managed to change the definition a computer, from a ‘ highly scientific equipment’ of 1960s, to a necessary machine of every member of every family, not only in America but the entire globe !!!
Andrew hailed from a very poor family of a hand weaver of Scotland who was disposed ‘workless’ by the power looms of the industrial revolution, and Bill was an entrepreneur at the age of 14 as a school student !!!! Both climbed up the ladder, to be respected as the ‘captains’ of their own
respective industries. Life sketches “ I began to learn what poverty means, it was burnt to my heart that my father had to beg for work, and then came the resolve that I would cure it when I become a man. ”. ( Andrew Carnegie) Can anyone believe that he would become the pioneer of the formidable American steel industry and the richest man on this world? Andrew Carnegie was born in a very poor family of a hand weaver who was disposed from his work when power looms came in during the industrial revolution in Britain.
His mother used to do household work to manage daily bread. The family shifted to Pittsburgh in US in 1848. Andrew started working at the age of 17 as a telegraph delivery boy, and never missed an opportunity for advancement. Carnegie happened to come close to Thomas Scott, who was an official with Pennsylvanian railroad, while working at the telegraph office. Thomas hired him as his PA, and from there he climbed up to become the later become the superintendent of Pittsburgh division. The outbreak of civil war created a huge demand for iron and steel.
Andrew saw this as an opportunity and invested in steel rolling mill. There was no looking back then. He became the richest man on this world during his times. In the later stages of his life, he sold off his steel business and concentrated on philanthropic activities, mainly for the spread of education and global peace. 2500 public libraries were opened with the help of his donations. He had given away 0 million as donations for the improvement of mankind. He had floated the idea of ‘league of nations’ and built the ‘ palace of
peace ’ which later became ‘ world court ’. He was so disturbed by the hostilities of World War I that the last entry in his autobiography was on the day the war began !! ( Andrew Carnegie) On the other hand, Bill Gates, real name William Henry Gates III, was born in a rich family of Seattle, USA, to a lawyer father and mother was director in a bank. He went to the most expensive school of Seattle, where the fees were $ 5000 as compared to $ 1760 at Harvard. He was interested in programming from his early school days.
The Computer Center Corporation banned students from his school, when they were caught exploiting bugs with the operating system to buy computer time!! So involved was he with programming that at the age of 14, he had already made a payroll program in Cobol and formed a venture with his school colleagues to make traffic counters and earn $ 20,000/- in the first year. When his age was disclosed, he was shown the gate !! He went to Harvard for his degree study where he met Steve Ballmer. Both joined hands as partners to establish
Microsoft® a software consultancy firm, which has become the largest software company on this world. Windows operating system, invented by Microsoft® has revolutionized the computer industry. Bill Gates is perhaps the only person to be ranked as the richest man on this world for 13 successive years, from 1993 to 2006 !! He announced his retirement from day to day activities in 2006, to turn his attention to philanthropic activities. ( Bill Gates) Methods Both Andrew and Bill have lived two centuries apart, and both were poles
apart in their personalities and background. Hence their methods to amass wealth also vary substantially. Andrew lived in times when technology was not so advanced and resources were scarce. A very fierce lust for wealth was the driving force behind all his methods, and this force was driven by necessity. He had seen the ghastly face of poverty in his childhood and his sole aim in life to drive it away. This was coupled with eagerness to progress and earn more. In absence of any good scholastic background, his instincts was the only asset he had.
He kept his eyes and ears open and took a right jump whenever he saw a rise in income coming through that jump. Experience was the only teacher, and he was an avid learner. He did not hesitate to jump if it offered financial gains. This was coupled with a sharp sense of vision. A vision to see the shape of things to come in future. He saw an opportunity in iron and steel during the civil war, and he invested in it. Taking right steps at an appropriate time is also one of the salient methods adopted by him.
Though he was an advocate of trade unionism, he did not mind exploiting the workers of his own steel company, because self gain is the only motive of any businessman. This is evident from the labor strike at his company. Good administrative skills and good human relations management were the key methods to his success, which has earned him the reputation of ‘Captain of steel industry ’. Bill Gates has lived in a different era when technology had highly developed and he had an enviable scholastic background.
His methods are more ‘intellectual’ than ‘physical’. It were the intellectual abilities, especially his ability to find software solutions , that has enabled Bill to win the race. Like Andrew, Bill also saw an opportunity and lost no time in grabbing it. A salient highlight of Bill’s methodology is that he has always focused on ‘ innovations’ and ‘speed’. The milestones of developments his development are witness to the fact that his thoughts are very fresh and innovative, and he worked at such great speeds that
he has always been the first to offer tangible solutions. It has been Bill’s strategy to bank upon someone else’s idea, work upon it, and present the solutions before others can do it. Bill did not see anything wrong in working upon GUI which originally someone else’s idea. It was Bill who came up with the first GUI ‘Windows-3. 1’ which was an instant success. ‘ Ruthlessness’ was one of the methods which helped Bill to attain his status as the ‘captain of software industry’. Impact on American Society
Both Andrew and Bill have had tremendous impact on the American life. Andrews’ daunting spirits were not only helpful in establishment of the formidable American steel industry, but also an inspiration to many youngsters who were eager to start on their own. Europe was the focus of all technological development so far, but Andrew was instrumental in demonstrating that America has all the resources to beat Europe in this matter. It was largely due to his efforts that large scale industrialization and mass production concepts started
gaining momentum in the war torn America. Talking of Bill, he has changed not only America but the whole world. So wide and great is the impact of his thoughts and the products of his company that today almost Microsoft® has become a household name over the globe. He has completely changed the way people communicate across the globe. This has a massive impact on the increase in global trade and commerce. Today, a Director of a company head quartered in London can get the production figures from its units situated in America, and the
sales figures from his office in Tokyo, within seconds. He should thank Bill Gates for making all these possible !! Moral Aspects All of us big or small, rich or poor have a social obligation. Both Andrew and Gates have erred drastically during their young age in their quest for wealth. Even though Andrew had witnessed poverty, he did not hesitate in exploiting the poor workers in his own steel company. The strike and the labor unrest due to this is a blot on his otherwise spotless career. ( Andrew Carnegie) On the other hand Bill
went one step ahead, and saw nothing wrong in ‘stealing’ the GUI concepts which were initiated by others. His fierce maneuvering with IBM is one more example of business practice which can be judged ‘wrong’ morally. A legal suit, filed by the American Government over Microsoft® raises many questions about the ethical policies of the Company. ( Bill Gates) Both these ‘captains’, towards the end of their career have exhibited unparallel moral sense by donating huge amounts for the betterment of the society. Andrew
concentrated on improvement through education, while Bill has been more aggressive and even touched social issues like ‘AIDS eradication’. Andrew died as a frustrated man due to hostilities of the first world war and what happens to Bill, only time will tell. Works-cited page 1) Andrew Carnegie, People and events- Andrew Carnegie, 1999, Retrieved on 18-02-07 from, < http://www. pbs. org/wgbh/amex/carnegie/peopleevents/pande01. html > 2) Bill Gates, wikipedia the free encyclopedia, 18-02-07, Retrieved on 20-02-07, From: < http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Bill_Gates >